Axiology is a branch of philosophy, which deals with the study of values and value judgments. Therefore axiology is also called ‘Theory of Value’ which comprises a range of methods to understanding how, why, and to what extent humans should value things, whether the thing is a person, idea, object, or anything else. Etymologically axiology derived from two Greek words axios means worthy and logos means science. Thus axiology is the philosophical study of goodness or value. Axiology primarily concerned with classifying what things are good, and to what extent, it also includes many other questions and problems about the nature of value and its relation to other moral categories. The problems of axiology contain how values are experienced, the types of values, the standards of values, and in what sense values can be said to exist.
Values are the things that we believe are important in the way we live and work. Values define our priorities, and, deep down, they’re probably the measures that we use to tell whether our life is turning out the way we want it to. Values can be classified into moral values and natural values. Moral values are those that have to do with the conduct of individuals, generally leading to admire or criticize. Natural values, on the other hand, have to do with objects, not individuals. For instance, to say that “Ram is a morally good person” might indicate a dissimilar sense of “good” than the one used in the sentence “Wow, he is looking good”. Both moral and natural values are equally relevant to axiology.
The general questions explored by epistemologists are:
Why do we do this? Why must we do that? How do different kinds of value interrelate? What can life be like? Are values ultimately rationally or objectively based? [shc_shortcode class=”shc_mybox”]What is the difference between a matter of fact and a matter of value? How are values related to interest, desire, willing, experience, and means-to-end? Is pleasure good/bad? Is he a good/bad man? What should I do? What actions are permissible?[/shc_shortcode]
Branches of Axiology
There are two main subdivisions of axiology: ethics and aesthetics.
Ethics is the branch of axiology, dealing with the nature and concepts of morality, including the important problems of good, right, duty, virtue, and choice. It answers the question, “What do I do?” It is the study of right and wrong in human endeavours. At a more fundamental level, it studies the principles of living well and doing well as a human being and the moral principles implicit in mores, religion, or philosophy. In ethics we meet questions like, do we run after our own happiness or do we give up ourselves to a greater cause?
Aesthetics is the branch of axiology which philosophically study the nature and expression of beauty and taste, as in the fine arts. It includes what art composed of, as well as the reason behind it. It studies methods of valuating art, and allows assessment of the art. It answers the questions like, what can life be like? Is art in the eye of the beholder? Does anything that appeals to you fit under the umbrella of art?
Axiology of different philosophies
Idealism believes in higher values of life. According to idealists, these higher values are truth, beauty and goodness which are discoverable. [shc_shortcode class=”shc_mybox”]These values are permanent and indestructible which never varied. Idealists argue that values are rooted in God and therefore they are absolute. Man has to discover these higher values or ideals of life. In Indian context these values are known as Satya , Siva, Sundar. The truth/satya is an intellectual value, the beauty/ sundar is an aesthetic value and the goodness/ siva is a moral or ethical value. These three values are identical to each other, which can be revealed by the saying, “Ishwar hi Satya hei, Satya hi Shiv hei, Shiv hi sunder hei”, means God is truth; truth is good and good is beautiful. [/shc_shortcode]These higher values of life were true yesterday, today and tomorrow. These values are already here in our world, we have to discover them. The aesthetic sense of idealists is not overly interested in precise or factual instances, because reality is in the general estimate of something, and less in a particular representation of that idea. An Idealist singer, if singing a song about a person, will therefore try to sing about the “perfect” person to bring out the person’s inner identity. He would leave any physical problems the person might have since the physical appearance is an imperfection and subject to change.
Naturalism denies the existence of God and therefore naturalists don’t believe in spiritual values. According to them values reside in nature. In order to realise the values in nature, one has to be in conformity with nature. We can find goodness by living in harmony with the nature. The highest value accepted by naturalists is pleasure seeking. The aesthetic sense of naturalists is in accordance with the nature. Naturalist considers nature as the standard form of any art. If a Naturalist singer sings a song about a person who has some physical problems, then he will include that in his song since reality includes imperfection.
Pragmatists do not believe in higher values, which are permanent and indestructible. According to pragmatists values can be created by the interaction of society. [shc_shortcode class=”shc_mybox”]The validity of a value is determined solely in terms of its usefulness in achieving some end. Therefore values must be tested and proven in practice. In the Pragmatist’s view, there is nothing that is always good, nor is there anything that is always bad. The aesthetic sense of pragmatists lies in the practicability; there is no appearance or sound which is, in itself, good or bad. Thus, the goodness of an art will be determined by the majority view and in relation to the social benefit of the art.[/shc_shortcode]
Realism also does not believe in higher values. According to realists, like reality and truth, values must be created by the person. The person must try to discover the values of the immediate social life. Realism argues that the real value lies in the enjoyment and fullness of life. The aesthetic sense of the realists may vary from man to man, what is good art for one may be bad art for another, and vice versa.